Volume 21, Issue 2 (April 1976)
An Experimental Study of Powder Tattooing of the Skin
Determination of the distance from muzzle to victim from the appearance of a gunshot wound in the skin is often of great importance. Such information may be necessary to confirm or disprove an account of the circumstances surrounding a death due to firearms. Contact wounds generally can be recognized by the presence of soot and powder in and around the wound as well as searing of the skin from the flame. When the contact wound overlays bone, tearing of the skin or muzzle imprints may be present. Intermediate range gunshot wounds are characterized by powder tattooing (stippling) of the skin around the wound of entrance. Soot may or may not be present. While soot can usually be wiped away, powder tattooing cannot. When the muzzle-to-target distance increases so that powder tattooing no longer occurs, the gunshot wound is called a distant wound and range determinations can no longer be made.